1. Waiting too long to start planning. The longer your asset protection plan has been in place, the stronger it will be. It will also cost less to do the planning long before you have a problem. Once a lawsuit has been filed against you, any transfers you make can be overturned. In order to battle a lawsuit effectively, make sure you have an asset protection plan in place long before you need it.
2. Mistakenly committing fraudulent transfers. If you transfer assets to a friend or family member in order to avoid losing them during a settlement, you may find it does you no good. This is not illegal, but the courts can reverse the transfer and hold the transferee partially responsible.
3. Trying to hide your assets. This is no longer possible. Even moving assets offshore does not prevent them from being discovered. Eventually, lawyers will uncover the existence of the asset. In some cases, having the asset offshore may protect it, but it will not prevent it from being discovered.
4. Assuming you can outsmart the creditors. Those trying to collect their debt and the lawyers working for them have done this before. You will not figure out a way around the system.
5. Handing control of your assets over to someone else. Often called the “poor man’s” asset protection, signing over your wealth to another person is never a good idea, even if he is a trusted friend or family member. You may have to give up some control at some point, but deciding you will protect your assets by giving them over to a sibling or adult child is a mistake. Discuss your options with an experienced asset protection attorney before proceeding.
6. Assuming asset protection and estate planning are the same thing. Asset protection is part of any strong estate plan but they are not the same thing. It is important to remember a living trust does nothing to protect you from creditors.
7. Confusing bankruptcy law and asset protection law. In a state like Florida, newer bankruptcy laws do not affect the unlimited homestead exemptions. You have less protection in bankruptcy court, so filing for bankruptcy should be used as a last resort.
8. Assuming it is too late to establish an asset protection plan. It is never to late to do this. Doing something is better than just allowing the courts to have their way with you. At least make an effort to protect your assets. You never know when you may be faced with a situation where your assets are at risk.
9. Not getting your foundation estate plan in place as part of your asset protection plan.
10. Trying to do it yourself. You only have one shot at protecting your assets correctly. Be sure to use an attorney that specializes in asset protection.